News

 

DATE=12/11/97

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-38370

TITLE=KOREA TALKS / NEXT STEP

BYLINE=MAX RUSTON

DATELINE=GENEVA

CONTENT=

VOICED AT: 



INTRO:  KOREAN PEACE TALKS THIS WEEK IN GENEVA WERE INTENDED TO 

BE A FIRST STEP TOWARDS EASING TENSION IN ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST

HIGHLY MILITARIZED REGIONS.  PARTICIPANTS AGREED TO CONTINUE 

THEIR DISCUSSIONS IN MARCH, BUT DID NOT MAKE PROGRESS ON 

SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES DIVIDING THE TWO KOREAS.  IN THIS REPORT FROM 

GENEVA, CORRESPONDENT MAX RUSTON LOOKS AT THE PROSPECTS FOR 

IMPROVED TIES ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA, FOLLOWING THE FIRST FORMAL

PEACE TALKS IN MORE THAN FOUR DECADES. 



TEXT:  THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN THE FIRST ROUND OF KOREAN PEACE 

TALKS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE SETTING OF LOW EXPECTATIONS.  OF 

THE FOUR PARTIES INVOLVED, ONLY NORTH KOREA EXPRESSED 

DISAPPOINTMENT SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES WERE NOT DISCUSSED.  OFFICIALS 

FROM SOUTH KOREA, THE UNITED STATES, AND CHINA SAID THEY DID NOT 

EXPECT IMMEDIATE PROGRESS ON BIG ISSUES.  THEY SAY THEY WERE 

PLEASED THE TALKS TOOK PLACE AT ALL. 



DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, STANLEY ROTH, REPRESENTED 

WASHINGTON IN THE TALKS. 



                        /// ROTH ACT ///



         THIS WAS NOT A DEBATE.  THIS WAS NOT A CONTENTIOUS 

         MEETING.  THIS WAS AN INITIAL MEETING.  A LOT OF TIME 

         WAS SPENT SIMPLY FOR AN INITIAL EXPRESSION OF VIEWS AND 

         THEN DISCUSSING HOW WE ORGANIZE IN ORDER TO PREPARE FOR 

         THE FUTURE MEETINGS AT WHICH TIME MUCH MORE ATTENTION 

         WILL BE FOCUSSED ON THE SPECIFIC ISSUES.



                         /// END ACT ///



U-S OFFICIALS SAY THEY SEE THE TALKS AS A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS.  

THEY SAY THE FIRST STAGE SHOULD BE TO ESTABLISH A SENSE OF TRUST.



BUT KOREA EXPERTS SAY IT IS TOO EARLY TO PREDICT HOW SUCCESSFUL 

THE U-S APPROACH WILL BE.  THEY SAY THE FACT TALKS HAVE BEGUN IS 

CERTAINLY ENCOURAGING, BUT THEY ADD THERE IS GOOD REASON FOR 

PESSIMISM, AS NORTH KOREA HAS MADE IT CLEAR ITS OBJECTIVES IN THE

TALKS ARE DIFFERENT FROM THOSE OF THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTH 

KOREA. 



NORTH KOREA SAYS IT WANTS THE TALKS TO FOCUS FIRST ON THE REMOVAL

OF U-S TROOPS FROM SOUTH KOREA AND THEN ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A

SEPARATE PEACE TREATY WITH THE UNITED STATES.  WASHINGTON AND 

SEOUL WANT TO INCREASE DIRECT TIES WITH THE NORTH AND ESTABLISH A

MULTI-LATERAL PEACE AGREEMENT TO REPLACE THE 1953 ARMISTICE THAT 

ENDED THE FIGHTING. 



DESPITE THESE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES, THE PARTIES ARE WILLING TO

CONTINUE TALKING.  KOREA EXPERTS SAY THIS IS BECAUSE EACH SIDE 

HAS SPECIAL SHORT-TERM NEEDS THEY HOPE TO SATISFY IN THE TALKS. 



FOR CHINA, THE UNITED STATES, AND SOUTH KOREA, THOSE SHORT-TERM 

NEEDS CENTER ON CONCERNS NORTH KOREA, WITH ITS AGGRESSIVE 

MILITARY STANCE TOWARDS THE SOUTH, THREATENS THE STABILITY OF THE

EAST-ASIAN REGION.  THEY SEE TALKS -- EVEN IF THEY LACK SUBSTANCE

-- AS A MEANS FOR EASING AND BETTER UNDERSTANDING THIS PERCEIVED 

THREAT.



NORTH  KOREA'S NEEDS ARE MORE ECONOMIC THAN POLITICAL OR 

MILITARY.  ITS ECONOMY IS RAPIDLY DETERIORATING AND IT IS 

SUFFERING FROM A SEVERE FOOD SHORTAGE. 



// OPT //  FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DAVID 

DENOON, AN EXPERT ON EAST-ASIAN SECURITY ISSUES, SAYS NORTH KOREA

IS IN DESPERATE NEED OF ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE. 



                       /// DENOON ACT ///



         THEIR (EDS: NORTH KOREA) ECONOMIC SITUATION IS OBVIOUSLY

         DIRE.  WE DO NOT KNOW THE FULL EXTENT OF IT.  THE NUMBER

         OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRAVELED TO NORTH KOREA IS LIMITED.  

         THE DATA IS ANECDOTAL.  BUT CERTAINLY ONE HAS TO 

         RECOGNIZE THE VULNERABILITY OF THE REGIME BECAUSE OF ITS

         INABILITY TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE LIVING STANDARDS FOR ITS 

         POPULATION.  THAT MEANS THAT THEY SEE GETTING SOME 

         CAPITAL, CERTAINLY INCREASED TRADE, AS CRITICAL TO THEIR

         SHORT-TERM AGENDA.



                   /// END ACT // END OPT ///



EACH OF THE PARTIES IN THE KOREAN PEACE TALKS HOPES TO FULFILL 

ITS SHORT-TERM NEEDS WITHOUT MAKING CONCESSIONS ON LONG-TERM 

OBJECTIVES.  IN THIS SENSE, EACH PARTY IS APPLYING A SIMILAR 

STRATEGY TO THE NEGOTIATIONS -- A FACTOR KOREA EXPERTS SAY MEANS 

THE TALKS WILL, AT BEST, MOVE SLOWLY AND, AT WORST, REACH AN 

EARLY STALEMATE OR COLLAPSE.   (SIGNED)



NEB/MPR/PCF/RAE



11-Dec-97 8:13 AM EST (1313 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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